Given that computer scientists publish in conferences, which typically require that presenters be present, how do computer scientists who are disabled, have broken legs due to a car accident, or have any similar travel restrictions, publish?

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    What you seem to be asking is "how do people with mobility impairments travel?". That... is perhaps a tad insulting, and probably off topic here IMHO.
    – Flyto
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 12:43
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    @Flyto That may be the case, if that actually were their question. Stack Exchange asks for good faith in its terms and good faith doesn't mean reading between the lines for a bad faith assumption. Their question at its core focuses on publishing when a person has problematic travel restrictions that don't amount to laziness or character flaw, but rather a condition that may require accommodation by law. They're asking what that process or accommodation may look like in the context of academia. It also appears that relevant responses have presented themselves. It's on topic. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 18:35
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    SetFlag(enabled,true); Life hacks! Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 19:55
  • I think this question could be made more useful by getting more specific. As it is currently it is a bit unclear which kind of travel restrictions specifically are meant. You can see that also with the answers which are very general. Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 6:56

4 Answers 4


I'd tackle a tangent issue, but one to which I was a witness personally.

Remember Eyjafjallajökull?

I personally know someone, who was going to present their work at a conference, but could not travel because of air travel shutdown.

They made a video presentation, basically their slides with their conference talk voice-over. It was shown at the event.

I would guess, that other inabilities to visit the conference (that do not result in paper being pulled), such as inability to obtain a visa or disability, would be handled in a similar manner.

Notice that it is typically required that one of the authors presents the paper, so if you have many authors, e.g. your advisor is on the paper and you break a leg, the advisor could present it even without triggering the exception rule.

Of course, if you are a sole author, or the inability to travel applies to all authors, or if you insist to present the paper yourself, but cannot travel, above issues arise.

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    I will never forget how one of my professors announced he would have an assistant replace him in the next week's lecture due to himself being at a conference – but added that the former statement only held true “modulo volcano”... Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 5:03
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    I ended up presenting at the first conference I ever attended because my supervisor was too ill to go. I watched the first session, used the second session to adjust my presentation based on what I'd seen, and then presented in the third session of day one. Nerve wracking doesn't quite cover it.
    – mcottle
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:46

Equality of access for disabled people is a legal requirement for public services such as transport and buildings in many jurisdictions, particularly in the EU and North America. There are many disabled academics and researchers who teach, research and publish.

One only has to look at examples like the late Stephen Hawking to see how it is possible.

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    Books, TV, Conferences - SH did them all and better than some with all limbs functioning...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 10:27
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    I don't think SH is a good example here. He was so famous, that I wouldn't be surprised that conference organizers and others made special accomodation for him and to make sure he felt welcome.
    – Emilie
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 12:06
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    Off-topic, but I just realized that Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Hawking have the same initials (since the comments confused me ever so slightly). What a strange and delightful coincidence.
    – tonysdg
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:31

In many cases, maybe all, it should be possible to work with the program committee to find a solution. If they have sufficient prior notice something can usually be worked out. Possibilities include those named in other answers here (video, ...), but also having a third party present the work.

In a last minute situation it may be hard to do anything but have an announcement at the conference that the author(s) couldn't attend because of ... The paper would still be part of the conference proceedings and so is still an official "publication". The only thing not included would be the actual presentation of it.

For those with long standing issues (Hawking) who publish regularly, the committees will know how to make something work.

But, contact the committee in all such cases.

I should note that it isn't the talk at the conference that makes it a publication (invited talks excepted). It is the paper. There are many disabilities that make it impossible to actually give a talk, including the inability to speak at all.


Publishing and attending conferences are related, yet independent things. A conference paper with multiple authors is generally presented by a single person. So even if I was the lead author of a paper, and a co-author of mine held the talk, I can consider the paper being published.

I guess, not presenting your own papers at a conference is nothing unusual. A colleague of mine fell ill during the conference, so our boss had to present her paper, as she wasn't fit to present it herself. On other occasions, only a select few of our group attended a conference and presented the contributions of our group.

  • Note that policies about presentations vary; many conferences (at least in my field) would not be happy with "only a select few of our group attended a conference and presented the contributions of our group", assuming the presenters were not authors on some of the papers, unless there was a "good" reason none of the authors could attend (usually visa denial, last-minute emergency, etc). Of course exceptions can always be made, but one should always check before assuming.
    – Danica
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 21:13

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